Phone Terms

Commonly Used Phone & Network Terms

 Bandwidth

Bandwidth is simply the measurement of data that your network is capable of handling and transferring at once. Generally measured in bits per second, bandwidth helps represent the network’s capabilities and limitations in speed. (Hint: You can check yours right now with our free VoIP speed test) 

 Call Park

Call Park features allow users to place the call on hold so that the call can then be continued on another device. This doesn’t just mean another desk phone, but users can pass the call off to any softphone, any other phone in the office, or sometimes even the user’s mobile phone.

 Cloud Communications

Any form of internet-based voice or data communication in which the service and related technologies are hosted by the provider, and users receive access over their internet connections. This means the service provider handles the “heavy lifting” with switches, applications, and storage hosted in privately owned data centers.

 Efax

Perhaps one of the most powerful business features you didn’t even know your VoIP service has is the inclusion of virtual faxing. 

Online faxing allows a user to send a document as an email attachment, but instead of another email address as the recipient, you would send the email to a fax machine, or vice versa your business can receive faxes sent directly to email. 

 Graphical User Interface (GUI or UI)

A Graphical User Interface, or GUI/UI, is essentially the interface that all users interact with when using an app. Prior to the standard of a GUI, computers were command-based and required users to type in lines of code to interact with the system. Just as the name states, GUIs add a visual, graphical interface to interact with. Generally, UC solutions will tout their “simple to use GUI,” which is an important aspect of any platform or app.

 Hosted Solutions

Hosted solutions allow a business to “rent” services, as opposed to purchasing the infrastructure. Cloud Communications by nature are generally hosted solutions, with services hosted by the provider in their own private data centers.

 IP Address

An IP address, or Internet Protocol address, is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. It serves as an identifier for locating and addressing devices within a network, allowing them to communicate with each other and exchange data over the internet or a local network. IP addresses can be either IPv4 (32-bit) or IPv6 (128-bit) and are essential for routing data packets across networks.

 Jitter

A term that is often referred to in VoIP quality discussions, jitter refers to inconsistencies in the transmission of voice data due to an increase, or even decrease, in data load. 

Too much data exceeding your network’s bandwidth can cause the jitters, which would be signified by interruptions or lost words in the conversation. Jitter is a general term that helps describe the symptoms of this common VoIP problem, normally associated with packet loss. 

 Latency

Informally referred to as lag, latency is the time it takes for the transfer of data to begin and occur. Higher latency generally means a slower connection as the packets of data will take longer to transfer. Meanwhile, low latency is ideal and allows for super-fast connections and transfers. 

 Packet Loss

Packet loss is when “packets,” or a collection of organized data, traveling across a network does not reach the end destination. Packets are lost when the network drops or loses, this data due to several issues, but generally due to network congestion. 

Networks may also discard packets if the network’s jitter buffer is reached – because high latency and jitter can lead to packet loss, certain packets might be discarded to help prevent this. 

 PoE

Power over Ethernet, or PoE, describes any of several standards or ad hoc systems that pass electric power along with data on Ethernet cabling. This allows a single cable to provide both data connection and electric power to devices such as Wireless Access Points (WAPs), Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones. ​

 Private Branch Exchange (PBX)

PBX refers to the technology behind a business phone system. For standard, legacy connections, an analog PBX that is built on copper wires allows a business to make and receive calls but is generally limited when it comes to features, and the solution requires on-premises hardware. A Hosted PBX is powered by VoIP with hardware hosted and handled by the provider, allowing for feature-rich solutions. On-premises PBX solutions are powered by VoIP but will be maintained by on-site IT staff as opposed to a third-party service provider.

 Provisioning

In the realm of VoIP and UC provisioning refers to the act of preparing and establishing a network to provide service to end-users. The term can be used for desk phones as well, as these devices must be configured to accept service before calls can be made or answered.

 Ring Groups

Similar to the concept of a call queue, Ring Groups allow a business to organize different teams or employees' phone numbers into the same group, in order to handle relevant incoming calls. 

However, what’s more unique about Ring Groups is that when the department is called, every phone in that group will ring at the same time. This is different from a queue, in which the next available agent takes the next call in the queue. 

 SoftPhone

Softphone refers to any software application that acts as a phone on your computer, or sometimes mobile devices like tablets. Softphones will generally have graphical user interfaces that mirror a standard phone dial pad and allow users to place normal phone calls directly from their comp

 Unified Communications (UCaaS or UC)

Seen as an evolution of cloud communications, Unified Communications represent the marriage and integration of multiple different communication services under one roof.

 VoIP

Simply Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is the technology that enables the delivery of data through the internet, in this case, that data can be voice, video, or other multimedia transmissions. Business VoIP simply refers to the solutions utilized by a business, with more feature-rich solutions that help even the smallest business act and appear as a large enterprise.